John Mackey, president of Pelham Plastics, could have spent less money to upgrade his production equipment in an installation process that was wrapped up about six months ago.But with help from Liberty, the electric utility serving Pelham, the company decided to spend more to acquire the most energy-efficient system available, hoping to cut one of its highest costs – electricity. In the process, Mackey has become an advocate for investing in energy efficiency as a way to boost the bottom line.

A supplier of precision plastics to medical device manufacturers, Pelham uses machines for injection molding.”It’s a fairly large piece of equipment,” he said, “with big motors, lots of hydraulics, and we were in the market to sell one of our old ones and replace it with a larger, more capable machine.”

The choice came down to the conventional hydraulic machines or newer all-electric models.”The seven we currently have are hydraulic machines,” said Mackey. “The all-electrics are higher-end, a little more expensive, more precise and much more energy efficient. You’d think all-electric means more electricity, but actually they use 30 to 40 percent less.”

A $20,000 rebate from Liberty made the proposition even more attractive.”We would have gotten nothing on a hydraulic machine purchase,” he said, “so even though the machine cost more money, with the rebate from Liberty that basically offset the higher cost, we are saving immediately on our monthly electric bill in the hundreds of dollars per month.”

The new machine has been in production for the past four months.

While investing in new manufacturing equipment can be a costly proposition, changes in lighting are something almost any business can do and amortize the cost through savings fairly quickly.

Pelham Plastics is soon going to replace all of its lighting throughout the 33,000-square-foot building, internal and external, with LED technology and motion detectors in office space that will shut lights off when people aren’t around.

While the initial investment is in the $65,000 to $70,000 range, the company is getting a rebate between $5,000 and $6,000 from Liberty, and expects to save more than $1,000 a month on its electric bill.

“The spreadsheet shows it will take 2 1/2 years to recover the initial investment; then it’s pure savings after that,” Mackey said.